Building Strong Partnerships: Palm Beach State College’s Approach to Workforce Development

Building Strong Partnerships: Palm Beach State College’s Approach to Workforce Development
Shelby Moquin
June 6, 2024
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About the Blog

In a recent episode of The Hidden Gem podcast, host Maya Demishkevich sits down with three esteemed guests from Palm Beach State College to discuss their successful strategies for fostering strong community and business partnerships. The guests include Edward Willey, Dean of Health Sciences, Belinda Mouradian, Associate Dean for Health Sciences, and Matt Lenihan, Director of Business and Community Relations. This insightful conversation delves into the college’s role in workforce development and how it actively responds to the community's needs.

The Vital Role of Community Colleges

Maya kicks off the discussion by highlighting the often-overlooked role of community colleges in supporting local employers and boosting the economy. Community colleges like Palm Beach State play a crucial role in preparing students for the workforce and addressing the evolving needs of local industries.

Introducing the Team

Edward Willey: With 35 years of experience in higher education, Edward has been instrumental in expanding Palm Beach State’s health science programs. He works closely with business partners, clinical affiliates, and local officials to ensure the college’s offerings align with community needs.

Belinda Mouradian: As the Associate Dean for Health Sciences, Belinda oversees health science programs across five campuses. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the diverse needs of the county and maintaining strong relationships with local partners.

Matt Lenihan: Joining the college a year and a half ago, Matt focuses on connecting business partners with internal programs, managing internships, and job placements, and tracking partnerships. His approach involves building trust and understanding the needs of both the college and its partners.

Overcoming Challenges and Expanding Partnerships

Managing Growth and Resources: Edward discusses the challenges of managing growth and resources while maintaining access to programs. He emphasizes the importance of strong partnerships where employers view Palm Beach State students as their own, creating a vested interest in their success.

Addressing Healthcare Needs: Belinda highlights the increasing demand for healthcare graduates and the college’s efforts to expand cohorts and internship programs. She underscores the importance of staying attuned to community needs and leveraging internal and external partnerships to support these initiatives.

A New Approach to Tracking and Managing Partnerships

Surveying Internal Programs: Matt implemented a survey to gather information on existing partnerships and identify gaps. This data-driven approach helped streamline efforts and ensure that the college could effectively respond to community needs without duplicating efforts.

Utilizing CRM Tools: The college leverages a CRM tool, Razor’s Edge, to track and document external engagements. This tool, originally used by the foundation team, has been adapted to include business and community relations, providing a comprehensive view of the college’s partnerships.

Measuring Success and Building Awareness

Advisory Councils: Matt and Belinda agree that active participation in advisory councils is a critical success metric. These councils provide valuable feedback on the curriculum and help ensure that the college’s programs meet industry needs.

Internships and Job Placements: Successful internships and job placements are also key indicators of success. These opportunities allow students to gain practical experience and often lead to full-time employment upon graduation.

Storytelling and Co-branded Initiatives: Matt shares the power of storytelling in building awareness and trust. By creating co-branded landing pages with business partners, the college highlights success stories and makes it easy for employees to return to school and advance their careers.

Advice for Other Community Colleges

Be Active and Persistent: Matt advises colleges to be active in the community, build relationships, and be persistent in outreach efforts. Understanding the needs of businesses and aligning programs accordingly is crucial for success.

Leverage Existing Tools: Edward emphasizes the importance of learning from peers and leveraging existing tools and resources to enhance programs and partnerships.

Celebrate Successes: Belinda underscores the value of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of students and partners. This not only strengthens relationships but also showcases the college’s impact on the community.

Key Takeaways

  • Active Engagement: Building strong relationships with local businesses and community organizations is essential for effective workforce development.
  • Data-Driven Approaches: Utilizing surveys and CRM tools helps streamline efforts and ensure comprehensive tracking of partnerships.
  • Storytelling: Sharing success stories and co-branding initiatives with partners can significantly enhance awareness and trust.
  • Collaboration and Persistence: Success in workforce development requires ongoing collaboration, persistence, and a willingness to adapt to changing needs.

Listen + Learn More

To learn more about the strategies and insights shared by the team from Palm Beach State College, listen to the full episode on the Enrollify podcast network. Explore the innovative approaches discussed and consider how these strategies can be applied to your institution to enhance community and business partnerships.

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